Ten Essential Facts Everyone Needs to Know About the Protocol for Funeral Processions

By: VGFS
Tuesday, September 20, 2022

You may never have thought about it, but funeral etiquette extends to the procession.

Even if you have never participated in one, chances are you have seen a funeral procession—also known as a cortege—, and you might have wondered about the rules that apply.

In this article, we will shed light on some important things every motorist should know about funeral procession etiquette.

Participating in a funeral procession? Keep these things in mind:

  • Processions cars are parked in the order in which they arrive. When guests enter the location of the funeral service, parking attendants provide parking instructions. Vehicles that will be driven in the funeral procession are usually parked in bumper-to-bumper rows. Those not driving in the procession will be directed to park in another area.
  • Punctuality matters. If you are a family member or close friend and will be driving your vehicle in the procession, plan to get there early. By arriving 30 to 45 minutes before the funeral begins, it ensures that you will be positioned near the front of the line. 
  • Funeral procession vehicles are identified for other drivers. The funeral attendant typically places a magnetic flag that reads “Funeral” on all cars in the procession and instructs participants to turn on their headlights for the drive to the cemetery. This signifies the members of the funeral procession to other motorists.
  • The last car in the procession has unique identifiers. The final vehicle bears two funeral flags and has its hazard lights flashing to indicate to other motorists that the procession has ended and that traffic may resume.
  • Drive slowly. Funeral processions drive at a pace below the normal speed limit. Expect to drive 25 – 30 mph on side roads and no more than 50 mph on the highway.
  • Remain with the procession at all times. In most states, traffic ordinances give a funeral procession the right-of-way and other motorists must yield it. So, even if it means you must go through a red light at an intersection, continue in the procession. Do not leave your place in line except in the event of an emergency.

Here’s what you need to know if you encounter a funeral procession:

  • Always yield the right-of-way. Once the lead car has entered traffic, such as at an intersection, the entire procession will follow without interruption. Even if their traffic light is red and yours is green, stop and allow the cortege to continue until all cars have passed through the intersection.
  • Do not pass. Drivers traveling in the same direction as a funeral procession should never pass or attempt to pass unless the highway has two or more lanes going in that direction. When on a highway, do not pass a funeral procession from the right side unless it travels in the far left-hand lane.
  • Watch for the last vehicle in the procession. This car typically has two or more funeral flags and its hazard lights flashing. Once it passes by, you may resume the normal flow of traffic.
  • Always be courteous and respectful. Never honk your horn, yell, rev your engine, or display any other type of impatient behavior at a funeral procession.

The funeral procession represents a solemn, time-honored event for those who have lost a loved one. If you have questions about funeral processions or need to make funeral arrangements, please reach out to our caring professionals.

About Vaughn Greene Funeral Services: For more than 25 years, Vaughn Greene Funeral Services has been providing a ministry of care to Baltimore’s African American community. As a leading local, minority- and family-owned provider, we promise to provide our highest level of service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved ones. For more information about our funeral, cremation, memorial, repast, and grief counseling services, please call us at 410.655.0015 or visit us online at https://vaughncgreene.com/.

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